How the NDP government plans to approach the ongoing push from the Northwest for a greater share of Resource benefits made for part of the discussion in the Legislature earlier this week, with Skeena MLA Ellis Ross seeking some answers from Selina Robinson, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
In the Tuesday afternoon session, Mr. Ross made note of the recent announcement from the NDP that they would be forwarding 300,000 dollars to the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Association to assist the organization in its engagement campaigns across Northern British Columbia.
Tuesday, the Skeena MLA wanted to know what a longer range strategy on the issue for the government might look like.
It's pretty specific — what the RBA wants. They want revenue-sharing. The announcement talks about $300,000. It talks not about revenue-sharing but a fund that's put in place to "build relationships with First Nations, labour, major project proponents, local business and the non-profit sector."
Aside from that announcement on the funding, there have been a number of different formulas and possible sources of funding that have been discussed that could basically achieve the goals of the RBA. Have these formulas and possible sources of funding been discussed with the RBA to date?
In response, the Minister observed as to the kind of work that the province has taken on with the RBA to date to assist in the NWRBA efforts.
A pair of follow up questions from the Northwest MLA tried to gain some insight as to what kind of forumla might be in mind for the government, as well as to how they plan to gauge the success of the funding already delivered.
Is there any opportunity to see the possible formulas or any types of sources of funding to achieve this? Because I get it all the time. I get asked about the way this is going to roll out and which pot of funding it's going to come from.
The biggest discussion point seems to be on future funding from future resource development coming from the northwest. Is that where this government is leading? ...
In relation to the $300,000 that was given as funding to the RBA, is there a mechanism that the government will employ to measure the success of this funding? How will you measure whether or not the RBA has built relationships with First Nations, labour, major project proponents, local business and the non-profit sector? And will that be reported not only to the RBA but, as well, to the communities in general that are represented by the RBA?
Ms. Robinson offered up an observation as to the make up of the RBA and the diverse and widespread nature of the communities that are part of it, adding how the government was looking to help them meet their needs and build relationships.
The Minister also noted that the RBA will be required to report back to the province on their process.
I'm sure that the member is well aware that there are 21 communities across the northwest that have formed the RBA. That, in and of itself, is a bit of a miracle, so congratulations to those communities, because I know that's not easy work, in order to bring people together for a common purpose.
So providing them with some funds to help them continue to build relationships, to help them continue to engage, particularly First Nations and others, so that they're working in healthy relationship and with collaboration is critical to being able to move forward. We have asked them to report back periodically to make sure that things are still on track. That's an expectation that we have.
You can review the transcript of the exchange at the 18:00 mark from the Legislature Archive page here.
The video archive features the discussion as well starting at the 6:00:00 PM mark
For more items of note related to Mr. Ross' work at the Legislature see our archive page here
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